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tv   American Morning  CNN  July 23, 2010 6:00am-9:00am EDT

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called shirley sherrod three times demanding she resign claiming that she is speaking for the white house. who is she? where is she? as officials keep passing the buck on this story we try to track her down and we'll have live reaction from shirley sherrod herself. she's going to tell us about her talk yesterday with the president. and trial by ethics committee. new york congressman charlie rangel facing a formal house hearing next week an alleged ethics violations. those charges forced him to step aside as head of the powerful house ways and means committee. rangel says he welcomes the opportunity to clear his name. we'll have a live report just ahead. the "a.m. fix" blog is up and running. join the live conversation right now. head to cnn.com/amfix. but first, tropical storm bonnie taking aim at the gulf of mexico. this morning the storm is bearing down on the bahamas. >> by this afternoon projections show bonnie cutting a path through the florida keys. tropical storm warnings are now
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post there had. over the next day bonnie is expected to grow just shy of hurricane strength and turn toward the deepwater horizon oil spill site. >> this morning in advance of the storm, the government ordering the giant drill ships and rigs that are working to stop the bp oil leak to pull up and get out of harm's way. but some good news. the containment cap that's been keeping a tight lid on the damaged well for the past eight days will stay sealed and apparently it is still working. >> this is good news but meantime, potentially dangerous weather is also forcing wildlife rehabilitation center which is located along the gulf coast of louisiana to relocate. crews started moving the oiled animals overnight to try to minimize the stress. the animals and personnel will now be at a larger facility that is outside of the hurricane evacuation zone. >> where is bonnie headed and what kind of strength will she achieve before she makes landfall? reynold wolf is tracking the storm from our storm center in atlanta. >> the latest from the national center is that tropical storm bonnie, second named storm of
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the 2010 atlantic season now moving to the west-northwest at 18 miles an hour. taend winds at 40 miles an hour. this is a minimal tropical storm. some gusts have been stronger at 50 miles per hour. it is currently 158 miles from miami, florida. that's the center of circulation. the storm is going to hop scotch its way across the islands, possibly go right through the straits of florida, maybe skim past key west and out into the open waters of the gulf of mexico. however what the storm will also experience is it will encounter some strong winds over the next 12 to 24 hours and may fluctuate in strength weakening a little bit. then as we make our way into that 36 to 48 hours, may have the chance to move into an area with less shear and possibly strengthen a bit more. saturday, winds at 45 gusts to 60. winds of 50 to 65 saturday. possibly moving right into the oil slick area, winds to the west, again winds at 50 but gusting to 65 at 2:00 a.m. on
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sunday. notice the cone of uncertainty. the storm could pull closer to pensacola, panama city or even farther to the south making landfall near galveston. there is so much uncertainty with this storm. in the next 24 to 48 hours we will have a better handle of where this storm could be headed and how strong it could become. >> there are also some major storms in the midwest. what's the latest on that front? >> the latest on that, clean-up time for places like milwaukee. they had not only strong storms yesterday but they especially last night were so strong they shut down parts of the airport in milwaukee. two people struck by lightning and streets flooded out. the stationary front is right across parts of milwaukee and north of chicago. more rain is expected today which means possibly more flooding. >> unfortunately, that's the case. it's been really tough on them this past week. thanks so much, reynold. also in just 30 minutes we'll be live in the gulf coast.
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ran marciano is standing by in gulf shores, alabama. new this morning, government investigators confirming a whistle-blower's charge that a cozy relationship between the federal aviation administrationed a northwest airlines compromised passenger safety. a report by the transportation department's inspector general says northwest repeatedly failed to follow federal safety orders for more than a decade while the faa routinely's l lly allowed t airline to avoid fines and penalty. scotch ministers have turned down an invitation to testify next week when a senate committee holds hearings on the release of the lockerbie bomber. senators want to get to the bottom of the decision to free al megrahi from jail last year, allowing him to return home to libya on humanitarian grounds. they want to explore bp's role in that controversy. the energy giant denies specifically lobbying for al megrahi's release to win a
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lucrative oil deal with libya. it's now up to a federal judge to decide whether to stop arizona's tough new imgreying law from taking effect next week. u.s. district judge susan bolton heard two cases yesterday, one filed by civil rights groups, the other by the justice department. the obama administration is asking for an injunction to stop the law from being enforced july 29th. one of the most powerful men in congress will get his day in court. new york congressman charlie ranger has been formally charged with a string ever ethics violations following a lengthy investigation. >> next week the house ethics committee will hold its version of a trial to consider those allegations. rangel's reaction -- bring it on. congressional correspondent brianna keilar is following developments. she's live in washington. this is a big deal for congressman rangel especially considering the timing happening right before the mid-term elections. but he's saying is he happy to clear his name. >> reporter: that's what he's saying. he's saying that he's hoping that all of this sort of comes
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in to the light. this is going to be tough for a democrat who's facing primary challengers in september. this is a big deal, as you said. this is what one senior democratic source described to us as the congressional equivalent of an indictment. he basically goes on trial here before the ethics committee and the ethics committee lawyers who have been investigating a number of potential ethics transgressions on the part of charles rangel will present their case basically as prosecutors and then mr. rangel's attorneys are going to present his defense. we ran into congressman rangel last night in the halls. here's what he said. >> all i'm doing is getting my notes. at long last the ethics committee has completed its investigation at my request. it will report those findings on thursday and when they do, i look forward to responding as relates to my election, i'm glad and hope that this will be aired
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before the september primary and certainly before the november election. so until they go public i can't go public because i will not know exactly what the findings are and i will not know until thursday. >> you have not been shown the report? >> there is no report. they gave this saying that the report will be issued on thursday. next thursday. i'd like to say that at long last the sun will be piercing over the cloud that i've been carrying for almost two years. >> reporter: so obviously saying that he's happy that the air will be cleared but make no mistake, kiran, democrats are not happy to be dealing with an ethics issue like this just months before a hotly contested mid-term election. here's the thing -- we don't even know exactly what these charges are, although of course there have been a number of issues that rangel has faced over the past months and really
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over the past year or so. >> we do have some idea of what they're connected to, correct? >> yeah. we have an idea because there have been a litany of issues that have been raised. among them, he had multiple rent-controlled apartment units in his harlem, new york building when he shouldn't have had a number of them. also he used official congressional letterhead to solicit donations to a center bearing his name there in new york. some of the bigger ones though, john and kiran, he failed to pay taxes on $75,000 worth of earnings that he got for a rental villa that he has in the dominican republic. he also failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets on his congressional financial disclosure form. and you may recall that back in early march, he stepped down as the powerful chairman of the house ways and means committee, the tax writing committee, after the ethics committee admonished
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him for corporate support sopon travel he took to the caribbean. >> he can't claim ignorance because he wrote the law. >> he's still on that committee but he was the chairman of it and that was the great irony of it. >> brianna keilar, thank you so much. the latest twist and turns in the shirley sherrod case. searching for cheryl cook. who is she and where is she? ed henry at cnn. will shirl cook be made available for any questions? there is an allegation that she said the white house wanted shirley to resign. will she be made available to answer questions? why not? >> i addressed that yesterday. >> nobody's really saying what happened.
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12 minutes after the hour. when the government threw shirley sherrod under the bus, this woman was the one driving it. we are talking about agricultural department official cheryl cook. sherrod claims cook is the one that called her and told her to pull over and bang out a
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resignation immediately on her blackberry. >> cook may be able to answer a lot of questions, including how far up the ladder this whole thing really went. our ed henry is digging deeper for us this morning. you literally needed your running shoes yesterday because you were chase down this story. >> we were trying to track it down. it is interesting because the obama administration obviously talks a lot about transparency but when it comes to those very questions you are talking about, these contacts between agriculture officials and white house officials in those key hours on monday right before shirley sherrod was pushed out, all of a sudden they don't want to talk. in the saga of shirley sherrod, there's only one mystery left to be solved. where is cheryl cook? cheryl cook works here at the agriculture department as a top aide to secretary tom vilsack. s on monday when the story first exploded, cheryl cook called her three times and demanded she resign and cheryl cook said it was at the urging of the white
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house. secretariville tack has denied that but cheryl cook hasn't come forward to answer one single question on this matter. we spent the day trying to track her down atat. dan lothian pressed robert gibbs on whether the white house would make cheryl cook available. >> i would point you to usda. i don't know if you talked to usda. >> the person who supposedly said that the white house -- wanted her to step down. >> again, call the department of agriculture. >> you hear on the overhead intercom robert gibbs just told cheryl cook, call the press office. we'll try to track her down. hey there, ed henry at cnn. we're working on a story about cheryl cook. i want to see if we can get an interview with her. robert gibbs just said in the briefing for the second day in a row that if any reporters want to talk to her, we should call over to the press office. can you help us? >> let me see. let me take your information down. >> reporter: later in the afternoon i got a call back from another press person who left me
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a voice mail shedding no new light on cook's contact with the white house. >> i think that's pretty clear what her involvement was or wasn't. obviously we informed them of what was going on because that's what we do on a daily basis. then in terms of their request or anything else, they -- this was our decision here at usda. >> then suddenly a possible break-through. >> my producer has just gotten what we believe to be the direct line at the agriculture department for cheryl cook as well as her cell numbers. >> your call has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system. the mailbox belonging to cheryl cook is full. to disconnect press "1." to enter another number, press "2." >> she's getting a lot of calls and not returning calls. >> reporter: we headed to agriculture headquarters to see if we could find cheryl cook there. we tried to talk to
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secretariville tack but his driver spotted our camera and his car was brought to a different entrance and the secretary left. just as we were about to leave the secretary's car came back to the office and we confronted him. >> will cheryl cook be made available for any questions? there's been an allegation that she said that the white house wanted shirley to resign. will she be made available to answer questions? why not? >> i addressed that yesterday. >> the secretary said he had addressed that the day before. all he had said was that there was a liaison at the agriculture department to spoke to somebody at the white house. he didn't reveal the name of the reyea son at agriculture. robert gibbs at the white house has not revealed which white house official or officials inside that building spoke to agriculture. all we have still is shirley sherrod saying repeatedly on our air that she was told by cheryl cook that people inside the white house wanted her out. now the white house again has consistently denied that that took place but they haven't made any of the people involved in those conversations available to
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answer a single question about this. >> she's got to surface at some point, ed. >> you would think. obviously republicans on capitol hill certainly want to talk to her. we've heard that. but they don't have the power of the gavel right now. it seems highly unlikely congressional democrats will sort of pour gasoline on the fire right to you. but republicans on the hill want to hear and want to ask some questions about what happened. if there's nothing there, they can certainly move on if they'd just answer a couple of questions. >> i think the american public is interested as well. they've been captured by the shirley sherrod saga. that was very telling how much running around you had to do yesterday to try to get a couple of simple questions answered. good stuff, ed. glad our viewers got to see it. we'll talk to shirley sherrod herself. yesterday when she was on the program she said she had a few things she would like to tell the president. she got her chance. 17 minutes past the hour.
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20 minutes after the hour. there was no beer summit. she doesn't drink beer. but president obama did speak with shirley sherrod yesterday. >> she's the former agriculture
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department employee forced to resign when comments she made were twisted to sound racist, then posted on the web. shirley sherrod is back with us this morning after quite a whirlwind week. she's back home in albany, georgia. shirley, thanks for being with us. >> thank you. >> i want to ask you -- it was great to be home. >> i imagine. glad you're there. but you know, you're still in the limelight, for sure. yesterday when you were on our program we asked you whether or not you had heard from the president and whether you wanted to. you said you indeed want to hear from him. tell us what happened yesterday. because as we understand it, it started with a text message and ended with a phone call from president obama. >> yes. he said he had actually been trying to get me since wednesday night but of course, my phone was full. couldn't take anymore messages. finally i was on the way to the airport in an attempt to get home when i checked my messages and had received one from the white house saying the president was trying to get in touch with
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me and please give them a call. i did that and i had the conversation with him and, you know, i feel good about that. >> shirley, yesterday when you joined us here in the studio you told us that where the rubber meets the road for african-americans, particularly african-americans who are either farm workers or farm owners, that the president really doesn't have the same level of experience that other people, including yourself, have. and you thought that you could maybe enlighten him a little bit as to what it is like there on the front lines. did you have that conversation with him yesterday? >> we didn't have a chance to get into that kind of conversation yesterday, but toward the end of the conversation i told him i'd love to have him come to south georgia. and if he does that, i thinkky take him around and show him some things. wouldn't take a lot of time. but definitely i could bring the point home. >> what did he say?
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did he apologize to you? >> well, you know, he didn't say "i'm sorry," in those words. i really didn't want to hear the president of the united states say "i'm sorry" to shirley sherrod. i felt he was saying that in his talk just by simply calling me. i felt it was, in a way, saying "i'm sorry." because he didn't have to do it. >> shirley, this is the second time that race has crossed the administration's path in a big way. the other was in cambridge with skip gates and that police officer. both times this administration has badly fumbled the issue. what does that say to you about this administration's ability to talk about race? >> you know, i guess because he's a black president, for some reason they feel you can't talk about issues that affect just black people.
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now i faced that before when we were trying to get the minority farmers act. initially it was not called a minority farmer's act. it was called a black farmer's act. and we were told that people in congress wouldn't vote for something just for black people. i'm assuming this administration feels, too, that if they highlight issues of black people, it would -- the country would perceive it as something negative. i know they probably have to struggle with that, but i think they're wrong. i think they could do more to advance unity if they could promote a discussion from that level. >> that's interesting. there have also been a lot of questions about just how high up the chain of command the demand for your resignation went. you talked about you were asked to pull to the side road after
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taking several phone calls from the department of agriculture and tap out a letter of resignation as you were driving somewhere. the person on the other end of the line was cheryl cook. our ed henry tried to sort of chase her down yesterday, just get a few answers from her and also had a chance to speak with agriculture secretary tom vilsack about it and no one seemed to be answering any questions. she's pictured there in the background with the agriculture secretary. what's your take on what -- who was perhaps instructing cheryl cook and what should happen after this? >> you know, i know cheryl cook and i know, had she been given the opportunity to make a decision here on her own, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this. so she was the messenger. i really, truly do believe it was not her message. cheryl is a great person. i would definitely want to see
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her be able to continue the work she was doing at usda. so i would hope that this attention on her would not cause them to do the same thing they did to me, boot her out, get rid of that as if it's a sore that need to be dealt with. she's doing some great work at usda and there are a few others there doing some great work. that's why i've said early on, i know those people need to be able to stay there. they need a little more freedom to make some of the changes that need to be made though. >> shirley, there's one other issue that has cropped up in the past 24 hours. steve king, republican representative from iowa, is questioning how and why you were hired by the usda in light of the fact that when you were in charge of this large farm cooperative in georgia, the new communities cooperative and the pickford farms case, were awarded a substantial amount of money, $13 million was the
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overall settlement to the cooperative. you and your husband received i believe it was $300,000. another question, why would you be hired by an agency that you sued. can you enlighten us as to how you did get hired by the usda? >> you know, i think that the fact that i was hired speaks, you know, volumes for this administration that they would be willing to take someone who felt the brunt of the discrimination from the agency to bring them in to help make changes, some of the necessary changes in how programs are implemented. the fact is that rural development does not work directly with farmers. had i been appointed state director of farm service agency, then i would have been working directly with farmers. but rural development actually works with cities and businesses
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and i can tell you that the work i was doing in georgia was -- has georgia setting records this year with how those programs have been implemented. we will do more -- you hear me saying "we." i'm not a government official anymore, but those programs being implemented in such a way that this is a year georgia won't send any money back to washington. that money is actually being distributed in the communities. some of them the poor communities that needed them. some of them on the epa consent orders. got to do something about their sewage systems and than money is getting out there. >> i want to ask you about this further though. because congressman king seemed to insinuate as he was talking about this that perhaps some of the claims awarded were fraudulent. he went on to say that perhaps if the republicans reclaim the house that there might be some
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investigation into this. do you fear this is perhaps another political hot potato to smear you perhaps by some conservatives because again this interview was linked to biggovernment.com, andrew breitbart, one of his websites. >> i'm certain that's an attempt to try to smear me. but they can look into this case. if new communities had been able to use the discrimination that it experienced in years prior to 1981, the pickford case only covered the years 1981 to 1996. there was so much damaging evidence of the discrimination that award probably would have been five, six, ten times more than what was awarded. we could only use what we experienced from 1981 until we were foreclosed in 1985. i can tell you some horror stories that i experienced. i could take you back to horror
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stories that my father experienced in trying to get loans from farmers home administration. i could take you to the home that my mother is still living in where my father was trying to borrow money to build a home and they told him a black man could not borrow the money to build a brick house, which is what he wanted. people down here build houses made of brick. he could not do that. if you look at that house now, they picked the smallest blocks they could find. they wanted a brick house. but a black man in baker county could not get money to do that. i could tell you many more horror stories. so who could better try to work within the agency to try to make systemic change than someone who's experienced the brunt of discrimination from the agency. >> well, obviously the final chapter is yet to be written in this whole story. shirley, it is great to catch up with you again. thanks for joining us today. >> thank you. >> half past the hour. we'll be right back.
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top stories this morning, a call from the president. president obama getting in touch with shirley sherrod after she was forced to step down from her post at the usda earlier this week. it was all over a tape that twisted her words on race before the truth came out. she says that she's not seen her new job offer. new york congressman charlie rangel faces a public hearing next week to determine if he violated ethics rules. a house panel brought formal charges against rangel yesterday. rangel says he welcomes the chance to defend himself. he'll have to do it though while campaigning for re-election to a 21st term in congress come
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november. this morning the government temporarily suspended operations to seal off the bp well. last night incident commander thad allen ordered most of the rigs and vessels at the spill site to move because tropical storm bonnie moves closer to the gulf. the decision to evacuate containment crews could delay efforts to permanently kill the well by maybe ten days to even two weeks. at least though that cap is on and tight and there's no oil spilling. >> imagine if they had to pull up and didn't have that cap in place. >> storm clouds are forming, closing in. it is tough to find a silver lining in the gulf of mexico. but here is one. >> yeah. roughly a third of the gulf waters closed to fishing because of the oil spill have now been reopened. that is 26,000 scare miles of ocean. there's been no oil spotted in the area since last month and the fish being caught there are testing clean. >> wow. rob marciano is live in gulf shores, alabama this morning. good news for fishermen. we talk so much about their livelihoods. unfortunately there is also a tropical storm bonnie that's on
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everyone's mind right now. touch on both of those a little bit for us this morning. >> well, that's the second piece of optimistic information we've been able to deliver for the second day in a row. the first being yesterday when they told us they were having at least some difficulty finding notable or significant oil to skim and now opening some of those gulf waters. because we've had that cap now, this is day eight on, they've been blessed with no oil seeping into the gulf of mexico. they've been able to get at least some forward progress made. now on the heels of that we've got bonnie which isn't a hurricane, or expected to be a hurricane, but a tropical storm that is expected to go right over the spill site. they're not taking any chances. they got over 2,000 people that work around that spill site so they want to get them all out of harm's way. the drilling rig drilling the relief well though, it takes three, four days just to get it unplugged and out of the way, then another couple days to bring it back. a huge, huge delay. skimming operations will probably continue at least for
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today. they try to do it just during the day. but a lot of times day turns into night. being on one of those coast guard skimmers at night when they pull that dirty equipment out of the water is intimidating. >> take all the slack out. >> reporter: once the barge was in place, we had alas the two vessels together. tighten up this slack here? >> take all the slack out. >> make this as tight as possible. i can feel the tug pulling against the -- >> we're about as good as we're going to get there. >> i'm just doing that for 20 seconds. i'm exhausted, bro. we haven't even started. this whole process has taken hours. i mean we're almost into the afternoon and we haven't skimmed a thing or even deployed any sort of skimming equipment. it's giving me a real appreciation for what these guys are doing every day.
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you think you just come out here, you drop some boom and throw a vacuum cleaner on it and suck up the oil. there is so much more to it when you are talking about a project of this scope and a mess this big that needs to be cleaned up. it's painstakingly slow. that process is slow. the nighttime video we'll show you in the next hour. i guess that illustrates the point of how much time it takes to unplug that relief well rig. four days just to get it unplugged and out of there, another two, three days to bring it back. that's why we've got a 10 to 14-day delay because of bonnie coming into the gulf. but at least for now it is capped and there's no more oil coming out of the bottom of the ocean. >> that's good news. when we talk about the reopening of the fishing, we talk about how short the shrimping season is, what about for fishermen. is it too late or will this make a significant impact on their
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livelihoods? >> i think these guys are looking at it one day at a time. they're very happy to work on these vessels of opportunity. at least the ones we talk to. they are short term happy about that. most of them at least for now are trying not to think about the long term. they just want to pay the bills day by day, get this mess cleaned up, then worry about the long-term effects later on. >> all right, rob marciano for us. rob has a special report, "rescue saving the gulf." he's on the front lines of what can be the largest clean-up effort. saturday and sunday night 8:00 eastern on cnn. big oil is launching a big billion dollar plan just in case there is another spill in the gulf. we're talking about that with the president of shell oil company next. 38 minutes after the hour.
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41 minutes after the hour. four oil giants are pulling together, launching a "rapid response system" to deal with any future oil spills in the gulf of mexico. bp is not one of the four. we're talking about exxon mobile, conocophillips, chevron and shell. right now they are committing $1 billion to the plan but they aren't saying when it will be ready. the system -- take a look at this graphic -- would include a subsea containment assembly,
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basically the same thing as the capping stack that bp just put over its damaged blowout preventer. it would also use manifolds on the sea floor and hoses to bring oil to the surface, all similar to what bp developed over the course of three months. "minding your business" this morning, i talk more about this plan with the president of shell oil, marvin odom. >> what we're proposing to put together is a lot like having the latest technology in a fire truck and a firestation with a crew trained and ready to go. so this is a matter of thinking across the conditions in the gulf of mexico, various depths, currents and that type of thing, prebuilding, engineering and prebuilding all of the equipment we made need for various scenarios and having that ready to go. so very adaptable, scaleable to different volumes that may be required to be addressed. >> you said that this is scaleable to work at any depth, i think it is up to 10,000 feet. how can you be certain that it will work up to 10,000 feet?
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this had never been done before at 5 "now." are you just extrapolating to say well if it works at 5,000, it will work at 10,000? what if the nature of the blow outis somewhat different than with this well? >> that's a good question. the adaptability or ability to respond to a wide range of conditions is exactly what we're after. in terms of operating at 10,000 feet, we do actually know how to do that. we've drilled wells at 10,000 feet, some of the last wells we completed as a matter of fact were in 10,000 feet of water so technology is very similar. you adjust to the depths and pressures so we can do that. but it is a matter of getting in out there and having it ready to respond. >> you have three other participants in this plan. conocophillips is in on it, chevron, exxon mobile. why not include bp? because at this point they had the most expertise in dealing with this. >> we absolutely want to learn everything that we can learn from what bp's gone through. we want bp to be part of this eventually.
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actually we want every operator in the gulf of mexico to be part of this. the reason why we stepped out as four companies is we think it makes sense and we think the public and the government actually would want us to do this as well. we owe it to ourselves as an industry to step out there and get this built and implemented as quickly as possible. the fastest way to do that was for these four companies to bring their expertise together, commit the money, get it built, then we'll invite all of the industry into it just like we have in other industry consore shall y consortiums. >> there were cut-and-paste plans that didn't seem to viable. is this a direct response to that? >> this is part of it. i think of this whole situation as somewhat of a three-legged stool. one leg of the stool is if you have a blowout, it is the ability to contain the oil and capture it and keep it out of
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the water. that's what this piece in particular that we're announcing today addresses. the other leg of that stool is all about prevention. how do you get the regulations and the requirements around well design, get them in place, get them at the right level, and that really ups the game in terms of preventing an accident like this from ever happening. really the third leg of that stool which is another one we're working on currently and not ready to report on yet but working on, that is, if oil does get in the water, what's the best way to respond and how do we up our game in terms of being able to extract the oil from the water. >> as to the bp well itself, you have suggested that there may have been problems with the way that it was drilled. what would shell have done differently had it been drilling that well? >> well, we have a very specific and actually global standard that we use all around the world for how we drill deepwater, high-pressure wells. that includes a very specific mechanical design and it requires that we have multiple
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barriers in place at all times to prevent flow from ever getting to the surface. and each of those barriers have to be independently tested and confirm that they are working before you can move to the next step in operations. so between a very different mechanical design and that operational requirement to test and confirm before going forward, what i've seen of the investigation of this well so far says that that's very different. >> what he was telling me that at the very bottom of the casing structure going down to the well they would have put a series of plugs in there so if the oil and gas broke through one, there would be another one to back it up. he suggested that bp did not do that. >> lookingality the disastrous consequences afterward, it seems so easy and like just something everyone should have been done or should have been required by law. next hour we'll talk to him about the moratorium that's in place and what the potential effects could be even if it lasts for the six months it's been declared or even worse if it goes beyond that.
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it is not just people along the gulf coast that will be affected. 46 minutes past the hour. reynolds wolf is in for ran tracking bonnie. this is just the latest round of bad news for the gulf coast. this storm is headed right near that deepwater horizon spill site. we'll have the forecast. an official beer taster, probably a dream job for most guys, right? so why -- why -- are women better at it? the cold, hard facts just ahead. 47 minutes after the hour.
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are being back to cnn "american morning." i'm reynolds wolf. this is a look at tropical storm bonnie. this may become a hurricane but right now looks like it is going to be fluctuating in power for the time being. long term, there is a chance it may strengthen. as it stands it is tropical storm bonnie, winds at 40 miles an hour, gusting to 50. it is about 158 miles from miami, florida. the latest path from the national hurricane center shows the storm expected to continue in its northwest trajectory moving closer to the oil slick. one thing we can anticipate with this is it will be encountering some shear in the short order but that may have stronger -- or weaker upper level wind as we
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get into saturday, saturday evening and into sunday. there is a chance it may intensify possibly moving closer towards pensacola, perhaps going farther to the west towards houston or even galveston. lot of uncertainty long term. we'll watch it for you very carefully. at this hour we are already seeing scattered showers miami, miami heights, key west. farther to the north across parts of the midwest, not related to that storm but a stationary front brought some heavy weather to parts of madison, wisconsin, back towards milwaukee where two people were struck by lightning yesterday. there were reports of tornadoes in milwaukee and flooding. could see more rainfall there today, possibly more issues with the heavy rainfall. that's the very latest on your forecast. more coming up straight ahead on cnn "american morning." the most news in the morning. ♪ people say i'm forgetful.
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six minutes to the top of the hour. now to an "a.m. original." don't we all wish that we could have this job? the woman you're about to meet has perfected an enviable skill, that of tasting beer. >> we know men like beer more than women do, generally speaking. judging by tv commercials, some
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men like beer more than they like women. but when it comes to the art of beer tasting, we're drinking you guys under the table. >> it's always funny to hear my children talk to other parents or to their teachers when they're asked about what does your mom do? my little daughter said, "she drinks beer all day." so when we went in for parent-teacher conferences, i had a little bit of explaining to do. >> we've got three samples to do a full profile on. appearance, aroma, flavor and finish. >> for appearance, i said clear, golden, low foam. the aroma i said was low to moderate.
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it's very little beer that we actually do taste. we take very small zips. i'm going to go grab a glass. almost done. you can tell by the dryness in the finished product. it is a good competition between the men and the women. we have a lot of fun in our taste panels. >> women are very good tasters because they have great ability to express themselves as far as what they're smelling here and tasting. just very overall expressive with the way they describe beers. >> there's certainly times, many times, that we pick out a lot more aromas and flavors than men do. we're maybe a little more discriminating against the beer. i really think it is the greatest job ever. i get to come to work with a great group of people and be in a relaxed environment and make
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beer. i mean who couldn't love that job? >> wouldn't be a bad job. >> have at it. >> so women are better at expressing themselves when it tastes beer. guy sits back and has a beer, the wife told me to go cut the grass. >> exactly! it's more of a counseling session or therapy session. >> exactly. sit around and air your grievances as opposed to describing the beer. >> good for her though. that's great. >> when i was in argentina earlier this year, went through wine country there. there are a lot of women who are running wineries and a lot of women who are tasting wine and were demonstrating for us. i found about 50-50, just anecdotally. >> well in napa when we went, which was gorgeous, a lot of families own the wineries so the man and woman are both doing it but a lot of the tastings i saw
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were guys. >> we saw sandra o. with the motorcycle helmet, she was holding the wine tasting there at the winery there. >> kind of makes me want a merlot. just kidding. >> you're not drinking -- >> i know. it's pinot noir. we'll be right back.
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good friday morning to you. doesn't it sound good? good friday morning to you. the 23rd of july. thanks for joining us on the most news in the morning. i'm john roberts. >> i'm kiran chetry. we have a lot to talk about this morning. we start with tropical storm bonnie. closing in on the gulf. it is already having a major impact on the oil disaster response. tropical storm warnings are in effect. louisiana is already under a state of emergency. reynolds wolf is tracking bonnie from the extreme wlesht. a call from the white house. president obama telling shirley sherrod that her unfortunate
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situation may present an opportunity to continue helping people. but she toll us she still would like to show him a few things. we'll hear from her coming right up and whether she's pleased with the effort to make things right again. under fire and not backing down. new york congressman charlie rangel says that he welcomes the chance to defend himself against ethics charges at a public hearing next week in congress. brianna keilar is following developments for us. we'll get a live report just ahead. first this morning, tropical storm bonnie moving in as the clean-up crews in the gulf get out. the dangerous system is expected to pass through the florida keys today and then into the gulf of mexico where it is already hampering oil clean-up crews. >> reynold wolf is tracking tropical storm bonnie for us live from the extreme weather center. where is she now and how much strength? >> right now she's a minimal tropical storm. she's located about 158 miles from miami, florida. easy to see on the map. the satellite radar, you can see the deep convection. this is over very warm water.
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however, at the same time it is fairly close to land, just crossed over the bahamas. it is also going to interact with strong upper-level winds and shear which may hamper its strengthening over the next 12 to 48 hours. moving west-northwest at 18 miles per hour. that's going to bring it more of a west-northwest trajectory as we get into saturday morning, saturday afternoon and into early sunday possibly making landfall somewhere along the louisiana coast, if you follow this line. however, if you look at this cone, the cone of uncertainty, there is a chance the storm could veer more to the northwest, possibly toward pensacola, maybe even panama city, or maybe toward the west, houston, galveston, so a lot can change with this storm system. as we go from 24 hours out it may move into the area with minimal shear as it moves into the gulf. may strengthen a bit more. we'll watch it for you very care tli. we've got scattered showers from coral springs, as far south as miami.
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splash-and-dash showers near key west. all worth watching over the next 24 to 48 hours. >> again, not expected to become a hurricane? >> as of right now the forecast doesn't hold that. but there's every chance it may strengthen on fall apart all together. >> reynold wolf for us this morning, thanks. as we mentioned, in advance of the storm the government is ordering giant drill ships and also the rigs that are working to stop the leak to get out of harm's way. there is some good news though. the containment cap that's been keeping a tight lid on the damaged well and keeping the oil from spilling into the gulf for the past eight days will stay sealed. >> it is not just rig workers being affected either. potentially dangerous weather is also forcing the wildlife rehabilitation center which is located along the coast of louisiana to relocate. crews started moving the oiled animals overnight to minimize the stress of transporting them. the animals and personnel will now be at a larger facility outside of the storm evacuation zone. more fallout in the shirley sherrod controversy to tell you about this morning.
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just to remind you, she's the usda official who was forced to resign when her comments about race were twisted, then posted on the web. she talk to president obama on the phone yesterday and told us about the information a short time ago here on "american morning." >> what did he say? did he apologize to you? >> well, you know, he didn't say "i'm sorry," in those words. and i really didn't want to hear the president of the united states say "i'm sorry" to shirley sherrod. i felt he was saying that in his talk, just by simply calling me. i felt it was in a way saying "i'm sorry." because he didn't have to do it. >> the focus is also now shifting to agriculture department official cheryl cook. sherrod claims cook is the one who called her repeatedly and also toll her to pull over to type out her resignation on her blackberry when she was driving in the car. cook may be able to answer a lot
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of questions including just how far up the ladder this whole thing went. ed henry is digging deeper for us this morning. yesterday you were on quite a hunt trying to chase her down. shirley sherrod says she hopes cheryl cook does not get blamed or lose her job over this because she said she is a good person and is working hard the department. >> we were trying to pick on her either. we were just trying to get the facts and make sure folks at the white house and agriculture department are answering some of these tough questions. administration certainly talks a lot about transparency but so far they've been giving up very little information about those contacts between officials at the agriculture department and here at the white house. in the saga of shirley sherrod, there's only one mystery left to be solved. where is cheryl cook? cheryl cook works here at the agriculture department as a top aide to secretary tom vilsack. she's in the middle of this story base shirley sherrod
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alleges that when the story first exploded cheryl cook called her three times and demanded she resign and cheryl cook said it was at the urging of the white house. secretary vilsack and white house officials have denied that but cheryl cook hasn't come forward to answer one single question on this matter. we spent the entire day trying to track her down. in the afternoon, my colleague dan lothian pressed robert gibbs on whether the white house would make cook available. >> i would point you over to the usda on that. don't know whether you talked to usda. >> the person who supposedly said that the white house -- >> dan, if you want to reach the under secretary or deputy secretary, again call the department of agriculture. >> you hear on the overhead intercom robert gibbs is still doing his daily briefing. he just told dan lothian if you want to reach cheryl cook, robert gibbs just said in the briefing for the second day in a row that if any reporters want to talk to her we should call
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over to the press office. can you help us? >> let me see. i can -- let me take your information down. >> reporter: later in the afternoon i got a call back from another press person who left me a voice mail shedding no new light on cook's contact with the white house. >> i think we've been pretty clear about what their involvement was and wasn't. obviously we informed them of what was going on because that's what we do on a daily basis. then in terms of their request or anything else, this is our decision here at usda. >> reporter: then suddenly a possibly break-through. my producer shawnthat shepherd has just gotten what we believe is the direct line for cheryl cook, as well as her cell numbers. >> your call is being forwarded to an automated voice system. the voice mailbox belonging to cheryl cook is full. to disconnect press 1. to enter another number, press.
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>> reporter: she's getting a lot of calls. we headed to agriculture to see if we could find cheryl cook there. we tried to talk to secretary vilsack but his driver spotted our camera and the car was brought to a different entrance and the secretary left. but just as we were about to leave, the secretary's car came back to the office and we confronted him. mr. secretary, will cheryl cook be made available for any questions? there's been an allegation that she said that theshirley to res. will she be be made available to answer questions? why not? >> the secretary said he already addressed that the previous day but what he said was there was a liaison at the agriculture department to the white house who had some sort of contact with the white house to inform them what was going on monday as this was playing out. the secretary didn't really name that official at agriculture. robert gibbs has not named what person or what people here at the white house spoke to the agriculture department. we haven't gotten any details on what those conversations were like. now we've gotten these blanket
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denials from both agriculture and the white house that there was no political pressure from the white house to push out shirley sherrod. but obviously, as you know, she has said repeatedly that just the opposite is true and that she was told by cheryl cook that the white house wanted her out. so until these questions are answered we still don't know those details from monday. >> you wore out a lot of shoe leather trying to get the answer to that question. ed, we did talk to shirley in our last hour. cheryl cook is the person that called her three times, said pull off the road, you need to resign right now. you think that shirley sherrod might be a little bit bitter about that. listen to what she told us. >> what is your take on what -- who was perhaps instructing cheryl cook and what should happen after this? >> you know, i know cheryl cook and i know had she been given the opportunity to make a decision here on her own, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this. so she was the messenger.
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it wasn't -- i really, truly do believe it was not her message. cheryl is a great person. i would definitely want to see her be able to continue the work she was doing at usda. so i would hope that this attention on her would not cause them to do the same thing they did to me, you know, boot her out, get rid of that as if it is a sore that needs to be dealt with. she's doing some great work at usda. >> very kind words from her. and as we talk to her yesterday, the only person she really thinks she wants to exact some sort of retribution from or justice from, whatever words you want to use, the guy who posted her video in the first place, ed. >> yeah. she's also left open the possibility of maybe a legal suit against him. we'll see how that plays out, andrew breitbart. cheryl cook may just be caught in the middle here.
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that's one of those mysteries because again we've gotten such little information. when you look at shirley sherrod, one of the things we've clearly learned about her in recent days, you notice her words were kind to cheryl cook. she's not a bomb thrower. she hasn't been throwing out wild allegations but consistently she's said based on those three hurried phone calls from cheryl cook she got the clear, distinct impression that the white house was pressing for her to go. again this is not some partisan allegation. why the white house and agriculture department just won't put this to rest is a real mystery at this point. >> again, as she said about cheryl cook, shirley herself, she was the messenger, this was not her message. again you are trying to tackle whose message was it then. >> if we could just talk to cheryl cook we might get some answers. >> you can expect heat was probably coming down on her, too. ed henry, thanks. this weekend we are taking a walk in her shoes. an intimate look into the life of shirley sherrod, the woman who overcame prejudice after her
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father was murdered. the woman behind the controversy this saturday night, 7:00 and 10:00 eastern here on cnn. more on this at 7:40 eastern with sherrilyn eye fill and boyye watkins. powerful new york congressman charlie rangel has been formally charged with violating house ethics rules. a live report from washington just ahead. just ahead. 12 minutes after the hour. what i wouldn't do for a do-over. 15 minutes after the hour.
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>> yes, it is. it's charlie rangel's war, i guess you could say. new york congressman formally charged with violating ethics rules now facing a rare public trial in the house this week. >> but rangel has a message for his accusers -- bring it on. our congressional correspondent brianna keilar is following developments live in washington for us. good morning. >> hi there, john and kiran. this is a really big deal in terms of congressional ethics hearings or actions. this basically plays out like a trial. one senior democratic source told us that what happened yesterday was basically the equivalent of an indictment against congressman charles rangel of new york. he served 20 full terms in the house. he used to be -- he recently stepped down amid this ethics cloud from his position on the very powerful tax writing committee in the house. and so what the ethics committee is going to do is they're going to look into whether these allegations are true. they're going to have these
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almost court like proceedings where the attorneys for the ethics committee who have been doing this investigation will essentially be prosecutors. then rangel's attorneys will be putting up his defense, telling their side of the story an they're going to be meeting for the first time next thursday. we ran into rangel as this story was breaking yesterday and here's what he told us. >> all i'm doing is to say at long last the ethics committee has completed its investigation at my request. it will report those findings on thursday and when they do, i look forward to responding . as relates to my election, i'm glad, and hope, that this will be aired before the september primary and certainly before the november election. so until they go public, i can't go public because i would not know exactly what their findings are and i will not know until thursday. >> you have not been shown the
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report? >> there is no report. they gave this saying that the report will be issued on thursday, next thursday. i'd like to say at long last the sun will be piercing over the cloud that i've been carrying for almost two years. >> so the question now is what are the charges that this committee is going to be having this trial basically for, and you know, john and kiran, we don't know and rangel himself told us that he doesn't mow what they are, that he's going to find out next week. >> we do have a pretty good idea though what those charges might be connected to. >> there are a number of issues that have been hanging over his head. among them, he had several rent-controlled units in his harlem, new york apartment building when he wasn't supposed to have several of them. also he used congressional letterhead, official letterhead to solicit donations for a center bearing his name in new york city. also -- he has admitted this and
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paid back taxes now. he failed to pay taxes on $75,000 worth of earnings that he got for a villa that he owns in the dominican republic that he rented out. there's also this issue -- this is a big one, too -- of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets, john and kiran, on his congressional financial disclosure form, something that all members of congress are supposed to do and certainly something that a person who is the head of the house tax writing committee is expected to take seriously and know the import of. >> he thinks it's going to vindicate him. we'll see where it does go. brianna keilar, thanks very much. big oil against the white house. could the moratorium have di dilliterious effects on the economy? stay with us.
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for their weekend coming up. "minding your business" this morning, four oil giants -- shell, chevron, conocophillips and exxon mobile are launching a
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new rapid response system in case there is another oil spill down in the gulf like the bp well blowout. so far the price tag for all of that is $1 billion. i spoke with the head of shell oil about that last hour. we showed you part of that interview here earlier on "american morning." but i also asked marvin odum about the white house' six-month ban on deepwater drilling, what it means for the folks along the gulf coast, his bottom line and folks across the country as well. >> if it stays in place for six months there is no question in my mind we will start to lose equipment out of the gulf of mexico which means we'll loss jobs, we'll loss rigs. that well already has had a significant impact, frankly, and will continue to have a significant impact. part of the problem here, john, is that you may say if the moratorium ends in sib months what's the impact. the bigger question is do we have any certainty around when it will end. because a rig company may keep its equipment sitting there for
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several months idle even though it again rates on the order of $1 million a day when it is working. but if you don't have any concept of when the moratorium does end, they almost have no choice but to move that equipment out of the gulf of mexico. >> if it goes, it's done typically from a year to 18 months, isn't it? >> that's right. you understand that these large pieces of equipment have to go under long-term contract for it to make sense. it is expensive actually to move from one country to another. getting those in place, getting the contracts in place is usually several years before a rig would return. >> it is easy for people along the gulf coast to understand why this moratorium is having an economic impact but what about in other parts of the country? if the industry stays shut down are we going to see a reduction in the production of oil from that area and might that eventually result perhaps in the next 9 to 12 months in increasing gasoline prices? >> i think you can draw the lines pretty directly between the two. in terms of the u.s. supply, the
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gulf supplies about 30% of our oil. it generates something on the order of 150,000 to 200,000 jobs. it is a very significant economic benefit to the country. now oil, as we all know, comes from reservoirs which are a depleting asset. you have to replenish that. if we stop drilling from an area that already supplies 30% of our oil that creates a gap on energy we are supplying to ourselves. we've become more relipt on international supplies of energy and ultimately that reduces the amount of energy supplied in the world which is where the price impact comes into play. >> just a little bit more on this rapid response system. it will be positioned in the gulf. very similar technology to what bp is using right now but it would certainly put those assets in the area so if something else were to happen they'd react very quickly as opposed to developing a containment system over the course of three months. still ahead, diversity and the gop. the shirley sherrod controversy
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does not come at a good time for republicans who are trying to diversify the party. what now? a gut check coming up right after the break.
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27 minutes past the hour. welcome back to the most news in the morning. "gut check" time now. the shirley sherrod controversy comes at a time when the gop is trying to attract more african-american voters. but the edited video posted by a tea party activist may have cost them more votes. carol costello is live for us this morning in washington with more on this issue. a lot of mainstream republicans though say this does not speak about us at all but it certainly doesn't help. >> no, it does not help. the possible fallout from the
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sherrod affair has some powerful republicans very worried. they've been trying to attract more african-americans to the party and already the racial tit for tat that's gone on between tea party members and the naacp has caused concern. so what to do now? a gut check this morning from one african-american who loves republican ideals but not the party. sophia nelson is a political strategist, blogger and long-time republican. at least she was, until she says it became uncomfortable. >> i think that the problem the party has, the republican party, it is now as identified with the tea party, with the conservative movement exclusively so that people like myself and others feel like, well, there's really not a place for someone like me in that party because we're rhinos, republicans in name only. >> reporter: she says some republican leaders are sensitive to that and even more worried now in light of the sherrod affair. as perhaps they should be.
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a cnn poll shows 73% of african-americans think some or all of tea party supporters who generally lean republican are racially prejudiced. and only 26% of african-americans think the republican party does a good job of reaching out to minorities. nelson says republicans have been calling her lately for advice and she's sharing. >> if all of your messengers are gray-haired white males, middle-aged white males -- there's nothing wrong with white males, imneat saying anything bad about them but it is a perception issue. >> thank you everyone for coming today. >> reporter: conservatives have tried to change that perception. for example, when congresswoman michelle bachmann called her tea party caucus together, at least five speakers were people of color. nelson says that's not good enough. >> just because you have a black face doesn't mean you have credibility in your community. right? i mean so people look at you based on what you've done, what organizations you're a part of, are you helping to make things better in the community you're a
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part of? that's the kind of stuff that resonates with people. >> it is the kind of thing that resonates with people. nelson says that's why barack obama's work as a community organizer resonated with so many african-americans. she said if republicans really want to attract more african-americans to the party, they should re-acquaint themselves with somebody like colin powell, a moderate republican who, yes, endorsed barack obama for president but he is respected in the black community. we want to know what you think about this this morning. what can the republican party, or the tea party movement, do to attract more african-americans? write your comments on my blog at cnn.com/amfix. kiran? >> all right, great gut check this morning for us, carol. thanks so much. >> colin powell, didn't they kind of elbow him out of the party after he supported president obama? what was it that dick cheney said about him? is he still a republican? 30 minutes after the hour. a dangerous situation unfolding right now in southern florida. tropical storm bonnie closing in
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on the florida keys. conditions there are expected to deteriorate throughout the morning. national hurricane center says south florida could receive one to three inches of rain. also tropical storm bonnie's heading to the gulf, unfortunately. right now the floating city of ships near the oil spill site has been ordered back to port. last night the government ordered the vessels to get out of the storm's path. it is a decision that will disrupt operations at the well site for at least ten days. good news though is that the cap is still in place and there is no oil flowing into the gulf. this setback coming after the government re-opened more gulf waters to fishing. after no reports of oil off of florida's west coast for the past 30 days, the government re-opened more than 26,000 square miles of water from tampa to the florida keys. it doesn't look like much of a weekend for fishing in the gulf anyway with tropical storm bonnie bearing down. >> the forecast has got operations in the gulf on hold. the ships pulling out their drilling rigs and moving off of the site for the moment.
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rob marciano is live in gulf shores, alabama this morning. rob, you've been out with those skimmer boats picking up oil. the fact this they're fining much less oil in recent days than they were in the previous weeks, does that mean that the storm might not have that much of an effect? >> well, it will bring less oil on shore, that's for sure. that's one thing we haven't really talked about. we talk about the evacuation. unfortunately when you take that drilling rig off the relief well, it takes days just to get it out of the way, then days just to bring it back. but the track of the storm if it holds true slices it right through the middle of the spill site. that means all the oil basically north and east of the mississippi delta is going to have an onshore push with that storm surge. we don't expect it to be a strong one but maybe enough to get whatever oil is out there back on shore, places like gulf shores, alabama, back across mississippi and southeast louisiana, they may see another infiltration of oil. how much that is, we'll have to wait and see.
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boom is going to be relatively ineffective. skimming will be ineffective as well in some of these rough waters. they don't like to do skimming at night but in the long days of fighting this oil spill, sometimes day turns into night relatively quickly. being on the deck of an operating skimmer at night is definitely intimidating. wow. so this is the first taste i've got of a skimming vessel. all the equipment that they're pulling out right now is completely caked in thick, heavy crude. this is just a mess. smell the oil. hot. dirty and the sun is not even up. i can't imagine these guys doing this for 10, 12-hour shifts in the heat of the day. these guys are busting it to try to clean up the gulf.
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what is that thing up there? >> bringing down the skimmer right now, bringing down the hose. he's going to drop the skimmer right there so you can wrap it up in plastic to contain the oil because tomorrow morning it will heat up and it will be all liquid, make a big mess. >> that's the vacuum that's been sucking up the oil all day? >> yep, that's the skim mer. >> look at the size of that boom they're pulling out of the water right now. crane. it's just all -- much, much bigger than i ever imagined. amazing. this is where i'm going to be working tomorrow. it's an intimidating, messy thought. a little taste of that hour special that we're premiering tomorrow night. looks like the timing of that is going to be right around when bonnie's going to be in the gulf and having some effect on the
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shorelines. forecast is for it to make landfall probably saturday night, into sunday morning. we'll be here covering that as well. >> strange coincidence. rob marciano for us this morning, great to see that and looking forward this weekend to seeing rob's speg report "rescue saving the gulf." he's on the front lines, what could be the largest clean-up effort ever. join him saturday and sunday night, 8:00 eastern right here on cnn. race and politics. now that president obama has spoken with shirley sherrod, some are asking is it even his job to lead the discussion about race in america? some are expecting that of him and others are saying, he has enough problems to worry about. we'll speak with two guests who have some differing opinions on that coming up.
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38 minutes past the hour. welcome back to the most news in the morning. the shirley sherrod controversy and the explosive mix of race, politics and the viral age of the internet. president obama spoke with shirley yesterday and expressed regret for the turmoil that she endured this week. a short time ago we asked her how she thinks the white house is handling race issues in general. >> i'm assuming this administration feels, too, that
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if they highlight issues of black people, the country would perceive it as something negative. i know they probably have to struggle with that, but i think they're wrong. >> joining us now from baltimore, sherillyn ifill, a law professor at the university of maryland and a civil rights lawyer. welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> from louisville, kentucky, boyce watkins, founder of yourblackworld.com and a professor at syracuse, university. you say the president has to do more on race. you hear a lot of anger from the african-american community. some might say though he has so much on his plate, oil spill, the struggling economy, two wars. what more do you think the president himself should be doing when it comes to the issue of race relations? >> well, i think the president was hoping -- and i think it is understandable -- that what he
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does on race would be in his substantive policies, the revitalized civil rights division, what he's trying to do extending unemployment benefits, what he's tried to do in stimulating the economy and so forth and even the real and sincere efforts of the usda to deal with backlogged civil rights claims. so i think the president was hoping that substantive policy would be enough. but the reality is, race happens. it happened last summer with the gates incident. it's happened with shirley sherrod. the right has been -- the hard right in particular -- has been very careful to try and present the entire obama administration and the project of this first plaque president as being an exercise in reverse racism. so race is also a matter of public discussion and consciousness and i don't think the obama administration can avoid it. the ironic piece is that i think most americans trusted president
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obama to be the person to help kind of navigate us through these shoals. after that race speech toward a more perfect union in philadelphia, think that really settled it for many americans. so the think the obama administration should actually be more confident about having the president be able to speak exclis italy to the issue of race. >> boyce, when you talk about confidence, the henry gates controversy was not -- you really can't blame the conservatives for that and the president said when asked at a news conference the cambridge police acted stupidly, then he said before knowing the full story of what happened. in this situation you had the naacp and some would argue the department of agriculture by extension of the administration also being quick to rush to judgment turning out that they ended up doing more damage, regardless of where the tape originally came from, just about how the administration deals with race. 2 for 2. it's actually turned out to be much worse for the president. >> well, let's be clear.
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race is a 400-year-old problem for our country and you're not going to have progress without struggle. the election of president obama was a landmark achievement for our country. we deserve tremendous credit for the fact that many americans, white and black and other ethnicities decided that the best person for the job was an african-american and so that's a good thing. but then at the same time obama's election has brought out some of the ugliest dimensions of our nation when it comes to race, many unresolved issues that we failed to confront. the issue here is that when you talk about the delicate surgery, the delicate social surgery that needs to occur in order for us to deal with race, you can't do that surgery with a rusty butterknife. so some extent that's what the president did last year when he addressed the henry lewis gates case without knowing all the facts and without being very careful about how he hit the issue. the result was a political disaster. he lost a lot of white support. it was the seminole moment when the tea party became much
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stronger than it was at that time. that was when obama became identified as a radical black man which he certainly is not. so ultimately the henry louis gates case put the president in a cage where he literally became almost petrified to deal with the issue of race in public. when you saw more substantive issues occur like the shooting of oscar grant, the shooting of sean bell, the shooting of ianna jones, the president was afraid to touch those things. i think a conversation on race must occur in the united states but the president is not necessarily the person positioned to best lead that conversation. in fact, shirley sherrod has impressed me so much that i think she should be involved in helping to lead that conversation because we have to have that conversation without a political agenda. >> that's interesting. so you believe it is really not the president's place to take up this issue or lead the discussion. i want to ask you about this, sherrilyn. shirley talked to us this morning, gave her opinion that perhaps the administration feels that if it highlights issues of black people, that the country
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would perceive it as something negative. she thinks that's not necessarily the case but she's talking about perception. what do you make of that? >> i think there are two pieces here. two pieces. number one, the problem with what happened with the henry louis gates matter and the beer summit last summer was that what was a symptom of a larger problem of race and encounters of african-americans with the police was treated for political expediency as a personal misunderstanding between two individuals that the president then brought together for beer and nuts. what was lost was the opportunity to talk about the larger picture. and that's what the president can speak to, including in this shirley sherrod matter. which also is being personalized. i think mrs. sherrod has, to her credit, tried to draw attention to the larger issues. this is a woman who knows quite a bit about rural land loss. she knows about black land loss and she clearly knows about white land loss. she's got a wealth of experience
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that i think she wants to give to the president about what it's like to be living in rural america in the south. and that to me is the critical place at which the president should be working and speaking and hearing from people like shirley sherrod. so it is not about just leading an abstract conversation. it is about substantive policies that have to do with the president's authority and power to address the issue of race in this country. >> boyce, there is a startling quinnipiac university study that was out about this. it was the president's approval rating. there was a stark contrast between black and white. 91% of blacks approve of the president right now, whereas only 37% of whites do. then you dig a little deeper in those numbers, boyce, some younger americans who were super energized about the election, independents as well, seem to be finding themselves turning their backs on the president, support eroding in these two categories. in this match-up that quinnipiac
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did especially among young people, they would vote for a generic republican over the president tomorrow 2012. what happened? >> life happened. america happened. the reality is that whites and blacks have always had divergent perceptions on almost every issues that relates to race. go back to the o.j. simpson trial and you polled whites and blacks, you got two different results. if you look at any information involving a blake male athlete, say michael vick, you pull whites and blacks, you get divergent outcomes there as well. the reality is that whites and blacks don't see the world as the same. the bigger problems in america are not so much racism meaning i hate you because of the color of your skin, the bigger problem is are things like racial inequality which is a byproduct of racism where whites and blacks have different realities when it comes to access to education, access to economic
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opportunities, and all these other things that go on in our society like mass incarceration where black men are actually arrested and incarcerated at a rate that's five times higher than the race in south africa during the height of apartheid. the point is that america is a two-tiered society when it comes to race and if we don't deal with this issue directly and in an honest way, we're always going to have these problems. i don't know if the president is necessarily the person who can really do that. i don't know if he's a person that wants to do that. but i know there are a lot of good americans, white, plaqblacd otherwise, who want to address this issue and i call on those people to attack it. >> i'm glad we got your opinions on it this morning. thank you both. tracking tropical storm bonnie coming up. we'll have the latest on where she is headed. 47 minutes past the hour.
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fidelity investments. turn here. ♪ welcome back to "cnn american morning." take a look at tropical storm bonnie. weak at this time. minimal tropical storm. 39 or above it is a tropical storm. as we take a look at the big picture you will notice deep convection. the storm ragged at the time being. it is moving west-northwest at 19. sustained winds at 40. gusts to 50. expected to make its way into the gulf of mexico if it follows the expected forecast path of the national hurricane center and may go over the oil slick as we get into saturday and then
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into sunday. the winds look like they may strengthen as he get into saturday. minimal shear. there is that possibility. already we have had tropical storm warnings and have been in effect panama city back over towards new orleans. even to the central louisiana coast. lot changes will take place over the next 12 to 48 to 72 hours. we will keep you up to speed with the latest the storm. that's what we have for you for the time being. for more news and weather, you want to stay here at "cnn american morning." the most news in the morning. for an entire year... its great taste helps make lowering cholesterol a non-challenge. just see specially marked boxes for details.
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declining an invitation to testify when the senate committee holds hearings on the controversy of release of the lockerbie bomber. senators want to investigate scott land's decision to free megrahi from jail last year and the role that oil giant bp may have played to send him back to libya. brianna keilar joins us live from washington. they are looking to get scottish ministers and the top guy from bp on the stand. >> that's right. tony hayward. we don't know yet if he will be there. but this is the senate foreign relations committee, john. taking a rather extraordinary step of asking foreign officials to come and testify before congress.
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here's who they invited yesterday to top the list, jack straw, britain's top -- former top justice official. also asking scottish officials to come. kenny mccaskill, the scottish justice minister. dr. andrew fraser who oversaw medical services for prisons. both of them, according to british reports, this morning are going to be showing up and talking to congress. and then there's also tony hayward, of course, the head of bp, who has been on capitol hill before. he's been invited and bp says they are considering whether he is going to go. but here's the deal here. about a year ago, when megrahi was released after serving less than -- or about eight years of his life sentence, he was released on compassionate grounds because the understanding was he only had about three months to live. he was dying of cancer. here we are, john. it is almost a year later. and he's still very much alive. and it appears his prognosis now
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is good. since then, since heave released, bp has been able to move forward on a potentially billion dollar oil exploration deal off the libyan coast. this is what these democratic senators say they -- it is just not passing the smell test for them. and they think that some sort of deal was brokered here and bp was very much involved, john. >> bp officials say they didn't speak to the british government about megrahi specifically but was there more general lobbying about the transfer of libyan prisoners? >> yes. they have said that they did talk to british officials about a blanket prisoner transfer that was already in the works. what they were saying to british officials is if we can't come to -- i guess, a -- quicker resolution to this, it is going to be hurting british business interests in libya and that includes bp. but even though they have said that and even though scottish and british -- scottish and english officials said there was
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no deal, these democratic senators don't buy that. four are from new jersey and new york. and almost 300 people were killed in this airline -- airplane bombing of almost 200 of them american and a lot of them were constituents of these lawmakers. >> it will be interesting to watch those hearings coming up. brianna keilar on capitol hill. thanks very much. coming up to the top of the hour. we will take a quick break and back with your top stories in two minutes. e now his credit scs seriously poor ♪ ♪ he won't be able to afford a house or car ♪ ♪ so he's working for the man ♪ to pay off all he can ♪ and to see how he's doing ♪ this is the site he's using: ♪ free-credit-score-dot-com! free-credit-score-dot-com! ♪ ♪ free-credit-score-dot-com! vo:offer applies with enrollment in triple advantage.
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what if that story were true? it is. ♪ good friday morning. thanks so much for joining us on the most news of the morning. the 23rd of july. i'm john roberts. >> i'm kiran chetry. we have a lot to talk about this morning. first, we start in the gulf where there is an unfavorable forecast. work to stop the oil leak for good is now on hold as tropical
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storm bonnie gains strength. heading towards south florida this morning. but in the line of tracking right towards that oil spill site. in a moment we will take you live to the florida keys. >> cleaning up the gulf one grain of sand at a time. it is a delicate and demanding task. rob marciano is in alabama joining a team of hard working men and women who are taking on the tar ball. >> also a call from the president. president obama speaking with shirley sherrod after she was forced out of the usda. here is when she said about the conversation earlier on "american morning." what did he say? did he apologize to you? >> well, you know, he didn't say "i'm sorry," in those words. i didn't want to hear the president of the united states say i'm sorry to shirley sherrod. i fell he was saying that in his talk just -- just by simply calling me, i fell it was a way
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he's saying i'm sorry. he didn't have to do it. >> sherrod told us she would love to have the president come to south georgia to show him how race issues are playing out on the frontlines. as it is every morning, the a.m. fix blog is up and running. join the live conversation going on now. just go to cnn.com/amfix. first, though, as we speak, tropical storm bonnie is close in on south florida. the greater threat, though, is in the gulf where this morning the government is evacuating workers and also ordering cleanup vessels and drilling rigs to get out harm's way. one piece of good news, though, the containment cap on the damaged oil well will stay in place. >> louisiana's governor also declaring a state of emergency fairing the winds and form surge will drive the oil into the coastline and deep into the marshes. reynolds wolf is tracking tropical storm bonnie for us. let's go to vanessa in miami.
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are you seeing the first edges of the rain band yet? is the weather still good, vanessa? >> reporter: good morning. no, no rain just yet. we are expected to get it in 30 minutes the beginning part of this storm. but everyone here keeps saying that it is out there. and guess what, it is coming. that's the story here in the florida keys. guess what, when do these people do? they have been preparing since yesterday. they tied up their boats and many of these fishermen out here putting covers over their electrical systems and know what's coming. you can see the wind starting to pick up. we are expected to have very strong wind. about 40, 45 miles per hour winds. we are expected to have a storm surge of about one to three feet here. but the big concern out here could possibly be tornadoes. that spawned off the storm. people here in the florida keys, they know storms and they are saying come on, bonnie, bring it on. they are ready for it. that's the latest out here. back to you guy. >> not forecast restricted before it gets to the keys.
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maybe they will dodge a bullet this time. thanks so much. our reynolds wolf in the cnn hurricane headquarters. he is tracking the storm where it is going. what's the best guess, best estimate, we should say at this point, reynolds? >> still more to the northwest. looks like it will be moving into the gulf of mexico. the question is it going to be able to retain a little bit of the intensity? i'm telling you, it is very disorganized. winds are currently at 40 miles per hour sustained. gusts have been up to 50. if we can hold together once it moves into the gulf of mexico, it doesn't say downgrade to a depression or even just a trough. it may actually strengthen and a bit more. now when we are talking about strengthening, latest forecast we have at the national hurricane center brings it with winds of 345 into 50 as we get into saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. gusts may be stronger up to 65. the reason why it may weaken before it gets stronger, it will run into a bit of shear, derek strong upper-level winds. if it can make it past that obstacle, get back into the open gulf, it should move into an area with very warm water and
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minimal shear where i could strengthen. could become a fairly strong storm. as we get into 2:00 a.m. sunday, passing the oil slick. one thing i mentioned, the storm could pass a bit more to the east. uncertainty. s toably more to the west towards galveston snow. especially the next 12 to 24 hours we are going to see changes in the strength and then as we go from, say, 24 to 48 to 72, possibly more changes in terms of where it will be headed. but right now more to the northwest. that's the latest on the storm. we will have more updates throughout the mid morning. and into the afternoon and evening. around the clock. back to you. >> thanks. phonily dangerous weather also forcing the wildlife rehabilitation center which is located along the coastline of louisiana here to relocate. that's an exclusive video this morning of crews moving the oil animals to minimize the stress of transporting them. animals and personnel will be at a larger facility outside of the hurricane evacuation center. also new developments and
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more fallout in the shirley sherrod controversy. the usda official who was forced to resign with her comments about race were twisted and posted on the web. she talked to president obama on the phone yesterday who said this could provide an opportunity for her a short time ago we asked shirley sherrod what she thinks about the white house's handling of race issues. >> i'm assuming that this administration feels to that, you know, if they -- highlight issues of black people, it would -- the country would perceive it as something negative. i know they probably have to struggle with that. you about i think they are wrong. >> joining us right now, live, chief political correspondent and host of cnn's "state of the union," candy crowley joins us. we have with us at the white house, senior white house correspondent ed henry. thanks to both of you this morning. ed, you have been doing a lot of running around this morning trying to get a handle on
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exactly how far up the chain of command the usda decision went when it came to forcing shirley sherrod to resign in the wake of the sliced tape. now we know the full story. what is the latest in terms of whether the white house is saying they had anything to do with it? >> well, they still insist that they really had no role in pressuring the agriculture department to push shirley sherrod out. but as you saw when i was trying to chase this story down over the last 24 hours, we ran the last hour, the white house keeps saying go talk to the agriculture department. they have all the information. we called the agriculture department and they bounce us from one official to the next and have no new information. here we are, four days after this video first surfaced, we still don't know what officials at the agriculture department really spoke to, which officials here at the white house, robert gibbs still has the name, which white house officials on monday were involved in any of these conversations, discussions, et cetera.
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the administration that talks a lot about transparency hasn't quite nipped this story in the bud because we still don't know the full story as shirley sherrod continues to allege that it was really the white house behind her being pushed out. it was not really tom vilsack who has taken the fall and responsibility for. >> it where does it go from here? we were asking the question at cnn to the white house, our white house reporters, were asking whether there were any plans on the part of the president to call shirley sherrod and yesterday at this time they said no. yet, shirley said there was a text message as early as wednesday night saying the white house is trying to contact her 37 now we know the president did make that personal call. what is going on when it comes to the white house and how they are dealing with this controversy? >> well, here's the thing. obviously president obama is the nation's first african-american president. and whether the white house likes it or not, he gets drawn into these sorts of things. sometimes it is self-inflicted,
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as it was in the case of the white cop at harvard versus the black professor at harvard. and that whole thing when the president said well, the cop acted stupidly. he sort of drew himself into that one. but this is his administration. and the fact of the matter is we all know where the buck stops. that's been going on since harry truman. it is on them. but the pressure is also on the president. every time one of these things happen, the people say we need a national conversation. and the white house has been reluctant both in the campaign and now to get into -- to see an issue as black or white. this is not a president who particularly likes to do that despite the fact that his strongest supporters, as you have seen in that new poll we have, are african-americans. he has bind pressure as ed can tell you from congress. you do? specific economic things aim at black communities which so far he has declined to do.
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so he's very much stuck between the way he is, which is that he -- he does not tend to see things or want to see things in terms of black and white. and pressures from what's the -- you know, really one of the bullhorns of the democratic party and that's african-americans. so he always gets stuck with issues like this. >> i want to show you the new poll numbers out this week. have you comb. this is coming from cnn's research corporation poll taken this past week. the president's favorable mums tied for the lowest of the year at 47%. 50% saying they disapprove of his job. how worrisome is this for the white house looking ahead to the fall midterm elections? >> i think water in more worried about even beyond that number which is worrisome, when you go deeper independent voters, seem to be turning against this president. they went strongly for him in 2008 against john mccain. and now they appear to be turning against not just the president but democratic party. that could be big trouble in november. but i think look, they have been
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hit by a whole series of problems. candy points out, there has been pressure on the left to do more about the economy, create more jobs. they still got unemployment well over 9%. they know going into november, that's rough. then you have had the oil spill. shirley sherrod story. all these other distractions. it is telling that this week now at gibbs daily briefings, it is almost a relief when people start pressing him on the oil spill. that was one that they were dealing with and couldn't -- that's starting to turn a little better. still not over. it has gotten a little bit better for the president and bam, gets hit with this other story. behind those poll numbers, the fact that in addition to the economy, which the americans seem most anxious about, there has been a list of other distractions that have taken him off the message. he won on wall street reform this week. he won on, you know, adding more unemployment benefits. the republicans didn't want to do. yet, his numbers are still down. >> unfortunately, you wouldn't know it, wall street regulations got passed this week because of
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the sherrod conversatitrvrs. somebody else facing trouble, charlie rangel. out of new york, who now -- the -- ethics committee holding a trial, a session on alleged violations, ethics violations, failure to pay taxes on a home in the dominican republic. questions about rent controlled apartments he was using as offices in harlem. is he in jeopardy here? >> yes, he is. they have gone the next step. something teth i can committee had been looking at and taken it to the trial phase, as you put it. and so, yes. and also what in means is that it goes -- i mean, he is, i think, the fourth longest serving congressman on capitol hill. and he's quite visible and used to be in the house ways and means commity and had to step down from that. indicating he would like to come back when all of this gets cleared up. doesn't look like this is all going to get cleared up any time soon. they go into the fall with this.
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the whole issue of ethics was one of the things that nancy pelosi had talked about when she first took over as speaker. when she said i'm going to drain the swamp and do this. here is this very high-profile democrat and, you know, we won't know the outcome of this until well into the fall. i think that hurts democrats certainly, appearance hurts democrats, as well as charlie rain gel. pit doubt it will hurt him in his district. i imagine he will be re-elected and is very popular there. >> it is -- sort of a aid i can for other democrats getting caught up in it. a lot to chew over for sure on your sunday show. catch candy crowley on "state of the union" sunday on cnn. ed henry, candy crowley, great to get your take this morning. thanks. here's something that caught our eye this morning. archaeologists may just be another step closer to unraveling the age-old mystery of stonehenge. a group was studying the mysterious site outside of london when they discovered the
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foundations of the second monument a few hundred yards away. it was apparently a wooden version of the iconic stone circle. they hope it will shed light on the purpose. but certainly it would at least on the surface appear to lend credence to the story that it was built by pigs. >> the one of straw blew away before they finished it, unfortunately. there you go. congratulations. best job in the world, tasting beer. who is better at it, men or women? >> putting rob marciano to tough work. cleaning tar balls off of the florida beaches without taking a ton of sand with it. there is a technique coming up.
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♪ welcome back to the most news of the morning. a silver lining in the gulf this morning ahead of the clouds forming and closing in, a storm. a third of the waters off-limits to fishing because of the oil spill have now been reopened. >> rob marciano is live in gulf
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shores, alabama, this morning. it is great news for fishermen. the announcement taking a back seat to the threat of the oncoming storm bonnie. causing a lot of destruction now? >> for sure. they evacuated all personnel and assets from the spill site. they got over 2,000 people working that particular area in a three to four mile radius. they pulled the balance the budget on all of them. they are moving out of there as of last night. that includes the drill ship, drilling the relief well. that's the biggest deal, obviously. we halted that procedure and takes two, three, four days to get that thing unplugged and out of harm's way. another couple of days to get it back. this has put a wrench in the plans and delayed things just a little bit. good news is they are going to keep the cap on there. and kind of let it go and monitor it until the storm passes. all right. we have been showing you how they skimmed oil out there in the gulf of mexico. we have been showing you how they cleaned the wildlife ap. the birds. we i had an opportunity to clean the beach. let me tell you something. it is not as easy as it looks.
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hey. i'm rob marciano. >> nice to meet. >> did you nice to meet you. you are in charge of this operation? >> yes, sir. got you a shirt here and put you to work. i hope you are ready. >> i'm ready. the first thing i noticed on my trip to the cleanup site, it was hot. really hot. >> when it gets up in the middle of the day, you will see this the heat index will be over 100. when you are out here working in the heat, like these guys here, in youer boots and long pants, shirts, no shade out here. just sun. i have my sunscreen. there's some tar balls to be picked up. >> reporter: after suiting up, it was time to work. are you in charge of this group? he is the boss. he is my boss. for today, or at least for now,
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you are my buddy as well. >> that's correct. >> reporter: picked up a broom and got started. just trying to very lightly brush it. >> exactly. >> so you don't take that much sand. this requires the touch of a surgeon trying to get these little tiny tar balls off the beach without taking a ton of sand. it is not easy. the sand in the oil is piled up. shoveled up and then placed in plastic bag to be disposed of. feel bad i'm taking that much sand. there's just no way else to get it. the sand here on the beaches is precious. i don't want to take too much. you rather have a clean beach with a little less sand than a beach that has a bunch of oil on it. >> reporter: this feels like it will take forever. once you are able to clean up a patch of beach as far as the tar is concerned, they will get these -- what i like to call -- beach zambonis out and basically
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turn the sand and clean up the seaweed and other debris so it looks pristine like it would normally look here on the northern gulf coast. you can't putt one of those bad boys out there just in the middle of far balls because lit make a big mess. frustrating slow process on the water and on the beach here. and i have a newfound respect for the people who are cleaning up the gulf of mexico. both in the water and on land. >> must just seem like an endless procedure when you first start to go after the tar balls there. it is taking you a number of minutes just to sweep up that little bit and then you have miles of beach. >> we have a team of six, seven, maybe eight people and we only cleaned up 150 yards and eight, nine hours shift. that gives you an idea of how slow the process is. often once you are done, it comes right back. >> speaking of that, a silver lining to this storm, bonnie, keeping the oil off of the beaches at least?
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>> well,ing the fact we skimmed quite a bit of it and -- the well has been capped for seven days, we have had forward progress. that's the good news. and -- the other slice of good news is that -- bonnie is not forecast to become a hurricane but it is going to be strong enough to where lit take whatever oil is out there and push it at least on the right side of this storm closer to the shore lines. >> closer to the shoreline. >> in orange -- well, in some cases infiltrates -- we are not sure at this point. we have to see what bonnie does. how much oil is out there and how much it wells up. from here, orange beach, gulf shores all the way down to louisiana, people are going to be on edge until bonnie comes and goes this weekend. >> got to love those sand sandbonis. they are cool machines. rob, thanks so much. >> thanks, rob. >> be sure to join rob for his special report. rob takes you inside the largest, most ambitious cleanup job ever. one that is sure to last for years. saturday and sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern. only on cnn.
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coming up on 24 minutes past the hour. minding your business. zone we all wish that we could have this job? the woman you are about to meet has perfected an enviable skill, the art of beer taste. >> we know that men usually like beer more than women do. and judging by some tv commercials some men like beer more than they like women. when it comes to the art of beer tasting, we are actually drinking the guys under the tab table. >> it is funny to hear my children talk to their teachers or other parents, what does your
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mom do? my little daughter said she drinks beer all day. when we went to parent/teacher conferences, i had a little bit of explaining to do. >> three samples, do a profile on. >> appearance, i said clear, golden, local. aroam a i said was low to moderate. it is very little beer that we actually do taste. we take very small sips. i will go grab a glass. almost done. you can tell by the dryness in the finished product. it is a good competition between the men and women. we have a lot of fun in our taste panels.
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>> women are very good tasters because they have the ability to express themselves as far as, you know, what they are smelling, hearing, tasting. just overall expressive with the way they described it. >> there's certainly times, many times, that we pick out a lot more aromas and flavors than men do. we are maybe a little more discriminating against the beer. i think it is the greatest job ever. i get to come to work with a great group of people. and being in a relaxed environment and make beer. i mean, who couldn't love that job? >> would you like that job? >> heck, yeah. this one is the skunk. i have to take this entire keg home. >> women are much better at expressing themselves? men just usually burp. >> that means you like it.
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>> you have to interpret the burp. a rich, guttural bubbly burp -- >> gross. people are still eating breakfast. in light of the shirley sherrod mess, how does our tea party interpret americans? >> the shirley sherrod case shows something posted on the internet can ruin someone's life. we are asking a broader question. is the internet destroying our culture and our values? we will talk to the author of a book on that exact topic. andrew keane coming up in just you a few minutes. stay with us. ♪ ♪ d ssiliefoow fit ckop t dr, rsretsvethg.
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jewelry.
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time for look at our top stories this morning. the government is temporarily suspending operations to seal off the bp well. last night incident commander thad allen ordered most of the rigs and vessels at the spill site to move because of tropical storm bonnie. it is now moving closer to the gulf. the decision to evacuate containment crews could delay efforts to permanently kill the well for at least ten days. tropical storm bonnie is expected to hit the florida keys later this morning. government investigators are confirming a whistle blower's charge that a cozy relationship between the federal aviation administration and northwest airlines compromised passenger safety. a report by the transportation department's inspector general says northwest repeatedly failed to follow federal safety orders for more than a decade. while the faa routinely allowed the airline to avoid fines and penalties. northwest merged with delta last year. the president admitting they dropped the ball in the shirley sherrod controversy. he spoke actually on the phone with her yesterday a few days
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after she was forced out of her usda job. this morning she told us the invite to meet face to face is still on the table. >> thought could enlighten him to be on the frontlines. did he have that conversation with you yesterday? >> we didn't have a chance to get into that kind of conversation yesterday. but, you know, towards the end of the conversation, i told him, i would love to have him come to south gentleman. he does that -- i think i can take him around and show him some things. wouldn't take a lot of time. but definitely i could bring the point home. >> this weekend we are taking a walk in her shoes. an intimate look into life of shirley sherrod. a woman who overcame prejudice after her father was murdered. she was forced to defend herself against charges of racism this week. the shirley sherrod
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controversy comes at a time when the republican party is trying to attract more african-american voters. but that edited video that was posted by a tea party activist may have cost them votes. >> carol costello has the a.m. gut check for us this morning. hi, carol. >> hello. the possible fallout from the sherrod affair has powerful republicans worried. they have been trying to attract more african-americans to the party and already the racial tit for tat has caused concern. what do? a gut check from one african-american who loves republican ideals but not the party. sophia is a political strategist and longtime republican. well, at least she was until she says it became uncomfortable. >> i think that the problem the party has, the republican party, is it is now identified with the tea party, with the conservative
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movement, exclusively so that people like myself and others feel like well, there's not a place for someone like me in that party because we are rhinos, republicans in name only. >> she says some republican leaders are sensitive to that. and even more worried now in light of the sherrod affair. as perhaps they should be. a cnn poll shows 73% of african-americans think some or all of tea party supporters who generally lean republican are racially prejudiced. only 26% of african-americans think the republican party does a good job of reaching out to minorities. them son says republicans have been calling her lately for advice and she is sharing. >> if all of your messengers are gray-haired white males, middle-aged white males, there's nothing wrong with white males, i'm not saying anything bad about them, but i'm saying it is a perception issue. >> thank you, everyone, for coming today. >> reporter: conservatives tr s tried to change that perception.
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when michele bachmann pulled her tea party caucus together, five speakers were of color. nelson says that's not good enough. >> just because have you a black face doesn't mean have you credibility in your community. so people look at you based on what you have done and what organizations you are a part of, are you helping, you know, to make things better in the community you are a part of. that's the kind of stuff that resonates with people. >> it is the kind of thing that resonates with people. nelson says that's why barack obama's work as a community organizer resonated with so many african-americans. she says republicans really want to attract more african-americans to the party and they should reacquaint themselves with somebody like colin powell, moderate republican, who, yes, endorsed barack obama for president but he's respected in the black community, he is connected. john, kiran. >> very true. you invited people to weigh in on your blog. what are they saying? >> lot of well-thought out comments. i thank you for that. this came from joe. he says for republicans to attract minorities to the party
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would require they change their entire philosophy and believe it is every man for himself and they don't believe government has a role in helping others who are less fortunate. this from andrew. the idea of taking our country back and constant call for smaller federal government beckoned back the state's rights. ap african-americans familiar with the history are aware state's rights have not generally been favorable for african-american interests. and this from victor. if the gop wants me to pay attention talk to me about issues that are important to me. job, security, education, housing. if they take positions i agree with them i would support them. simple as that. no need to have a parade of african-americans to get support. i didn't support him because he's black. i supported him because of his position on tissues. keep them coming. >> good stuff, carol. thanks so much. >> great to see you this morning. in the wake of the shirley sherrod case, we are asking the broader question this morning -- is the internet destroying our culture and our values?
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author andrew keane coming up next. man, this is perfect.
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♪ 39 minutes after the hour. could happen to anyone. the message from shirley sherrod after losing her job and having her life turned upside down when an out context clip is posted online. it came close to ruining her life. now that the apologies are rolling in, what does sherrod's story say about the state of the hyperspeed internet society? andrew keane is the author of "the cult of the amateur." he hosts "keane." he is with us from berkeley, california, this morning. great to talk to us this morning. what does the shirley sherrod case subway the internet and our society and the ability of anyone to ruin somebody's life
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simply by posting something out of context on the internet? >> well, certainly this -- i'm not sure if the light has been ruined. i think the light has been made more interesting. in a sense she won a lottery ticket and lost it and found it again. i think what it says generally is the internet is a mirror. it reflects us. it is easy to blame the internet. we have have to take responsibility for it. the internet is us. the internet enables anyone to publish anything. either by taking responsibility for what they published or by doing it anonymously. either by trying to publish the truth or by publishing the malima malmalishous rumors as the fellow did in this case. what it reflects is a certain of paranoia about media and obsession with conspiracy. kind of a lunacy that reflects
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extremism, a bitterness. also a degree of responsibility. i think this case is interesting because it shows the worst of the internet and in the sense someone printed a lie or published a lie which then was virally spread and almost ruined her life. but then part of the internet and also mainstream media guys like you came to the rescue. and you sorted the case out. and you showed that it was alive. you revealed the fact the reality, the truth, which was actually the very opposite of what was published. what i think we need to think about, though, is if that hadn't existed. what happened if all we had was rumor and all we had was malicious people on the internet printing stuff or publishing stuff to suit their own agenda. that's really scary. we do need a gatekeeper here. someone to keep score and tell the truth. >> let me ask you about the gatekeeper and who that should be. this particular case, this was very high profile one because secretary of agriculture was involved. how many times across the spectrum of the internet does
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something similar to this happen where we don't come in and tell the real story can someone's enemy post something online and begin to whittle away at that person's reputation simply by putting it out there in a place where this stuff goes viral in a heartbeat? >> absolutely. we live in what people now call it the age of reputation. we all have to take responsibility for our reputations online. we have our facebook pages and we have our twitter feeds. and that is the reality of our age. it is too easy to ruin people's reputations. there are young women who have committed suicide after people spread malicious rumors about them that people whose careers are ruined every day through the internet. there are businesses on sites like yelp which are ruined. when you don't have a gatekeeper, when you don't have an official relatively honest nonanonymous middleman who is keeping score, anyone can
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publish anything about anyone or any business and essentially undermine them. that's what's going on a lot on the internet. when you go to the consumer sites. often you are reading reviews published by rivals. it is very, very unreliable and brings out our worst. it brings out our most dishonest side because when you can publish something without taking responsibility, it is like the intellectual property stuff. if you are able to steal stuff online, you do it. it doesn't necessarily mean you'reville. it brings out the worst. >> here's the really controversial issue and gets to the heart of the first amendment. who should be the gatekeeper here if there is to be one? >> it has to be you, john, doesment it? >> well, mine -- we do the following. in this particular case, we did the followup work. but somebody in that position can't police the internet. >> well, you can't -- i don't know if i can replicate johns all over the place but we need cnn. we need npr. we need relatively honest middle
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men who are able to take the facts. there are as facts in these cases. actually investigate. and you have to pay your journalists. you have got to have journalists who aren't anonymous, who aren't heavy on agenda. one of the most dangerous illusions or delusions that's going on at the moment, there are some people who are arguing that all news by definition is biased. all news promotes a certain agenda. no fact is independent of one's views. and if that is the case, then news services should be biased. but i don't think that's true. i think that this case shows that some things are lies and some things are true. you need the professional media to actually sort out the truth from the lies. it is very simple. that media is the very backbone of democracy when you do away with it, just have mob rule. >> some people say, though, the internet is democracy in action and as don amdald rumsfeld said,
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it is often messy. i want to ask you quickly -- >> let me say something -- let me just respond to that because -- we live in a representative democracy. these debates were fought out at the -- foundation of this country. and the debate between direct and representative democracy. the internet is media. it is not politics. and that's a fundamental error to misrepresent it. and to present it as a form of direct democracy which is rejected by the founders of this country in the first place. >> all right. i wanted to get to the idea of people posting comments anonymously. we don't have time this morning. perhaps we can get you back because this is obviously an issue that's going to be with us for the rest of our lives. andrew keen, good to talk to you this morning. appreciate it. >> thank you very much. >> we are covering tropical storm bonnie. she is accelerating now, heading for the gulf. due to hit the florida keys later this -- today actually. reynolds wolf following all of
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it for us.
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i'm reynolds wolf. welcome back to "cnn american morning." the most news of the morning. transition from news to weather and news. making news and weather, tropical storm bonnie, latest we have, sustained winds at 40 miles per hour. gusts to 50. this is a ragged system.
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it is not well defined. it is expected to fluctuate in strength as it makes its way across the south of florida and into the gulf of mexico. there is a chance the storm may strengthen as it makes its way into the gulf, it will move into an area of warm water. this could develop into a little bit stronger of a storm. still not anticipated to become a major hurricane at this point. however, there is a line of possibilities as it moves into this area near the oil slick as we get into saturday, 2:00 p.m. and sunday, possibly making landfall in parts of louisiana. the storm could become a by stronger or possibly fickle in the late stages. a chance the storm could pull more to the northwest going towards panama city. perhaps over towards the central coast of texas. we will watch it for you carefully here on cnn. more coming up in a few moments. keep it here. you are watching "american morning." the most news of the morning. i just told him, do your best.
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morning. what if a child's life could be greatly improved before they were even born? a government worker in california took matters into her own hands after uncovering the spending budget for treating sick babies. meet katherine hall trujillo. grandmother, mother, founder of the birthing project usa. >> african-american babies die two to four times the rate of other babies. there is public house administrator, i use the words infant mortality every day. but until i held a dead baby in my arms i never realized that that meant counting dead babies. my name is cath are inhall trujillo. i remind women they are sisters and help each other have healthier babies. we are saying you don't have to have this by yourself. >> the birthing project takes
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regular women in the community like me to work closely with the sisters throughout their pregnancy. and after they have the baby. >> i wanted a big sister to teach me things i don't know. >> my job is to just really help you, whether it is figuring out how to pay your rent, do you have food in your house. making sure she is making her prenatal appointments. it is all because i'm trying to make sure you are not stressed in order for you to have a healthy baby. >> healthy babies are born into healthy communities. >> pretty special. >> we have been doing this long enough now that you can hear a child say -- i was born into the birthing project. that means more to me than anything i may have given up because it may in turn i have received a whole community.
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a 5-year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. and another reason why a chevy's a chevy. ♪ welcome back to the most newsful morning. four minutes until the top of the hour. when hurricane katrina battered the bufl coast five years ago, biloxi, mississippi, was in jeopardy of losing its total identity. >> the city has a rich history many of its most treasured historical sites were damaged or destroyed in the storm and biloxi was almost literally wiped out. tom foreman joins us live from biloxi. found people determined to build a better future for the town by keeping an eye on the pass. >> reporter: yes. this is tough, john and kiran. it really is. when you have the need to recover from a massive hurricane or maybe you have a catastrophic
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oil spill or maybe another storm threatening, it is a very hard sell to say to people we need to spend time and money looking after our historic sites. yet, many people here believe that you absolutely must because those are the things that convey stability. they say to people you should reinvest. you should build up again. the 150-year-old lighthouse is gleaming again in biloxi. reopened just this year after a massive restoration. and other glimmers of hope are appearing all over town. >> this is the magnolia hotel. it is the only surviving antebellum hotel along the gulf coast. >> reporter: bill raymond is overseeing the revival of more than a dozen landmarks hammered by katrina. how much damage did you have here? >> we had seven feet of water, water up to there. >> reporter: he's sharply aware with so many jobs lost in the
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recession and so many in pair frill the oil spill, many citizens are asking hard questions. >> why would you spend money to save historic structure? you need to help get people get jobs. >> what did you tell them? >> think about the future. think about a few years from now when you do have a house, you have a place to work. >> reporter: you are going to also want a town with an identity. >> exactly. >> reporter: for thee centuries, this town, one of the oldest on the gulf, has had a deep identity rooted in fishing and tourism. >> this is 103-year-old building here. >> reporter: in the newly restored city hall, the mayor believes regaining a sense of that history is critical to convincing tourists to come back. business leaders to reinvest. everyone to believe his town will fully return from all of its calamities. you lost a lot of history in this storm. >> lost a tremendous amount of history. we are going to bring it back as much as we can. >> reporter: inside the lighthouse, the walls shows how
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high floodwaters have risen over many years. but sites all over show that this town has always built up no matter how far it is beaten down. >> it is not our history but it is a reminder and the -- markers of our history. >> reporter: bill raymond is convinced with each bit of history he can save, a future, too, grows brighter. it really is just the living record. living proof that they know how to recover here and say you have to show that if you want people inform believe you are going to recover again. yes, they have the casinos and all of that. yes, they have right now this morning a beautiful beach here with dolphins jumping. it is telling to you have no idea any of these troubles hit there at the moment if you are standing on the beach. but that history, that history, really matters. it is not just a feel-good thing. they say that's a secret to building up again here, john and kiran. >> you know, it is amazing they can do it with such conviction ow

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